Dark Hemyspheres: July 2016

With the summer descending fast upon us unsuspecting pale souls, this month has been a touch on the sparse side in my dark corner of the TMF offices; the result is a shorter (although certainly not sweeter) rundown of what is needed to banish those blue sky, er, blues… First up we have the (on the surface at least) intriguing collaboration between Joey Jordison and Frédéric Leclercq in the shape of Sinsaenum. On Echoes Of The Tortured [4] they bring in the likes of Sean Zatorsky and Attila Csihar to bolster the line-up, but alas this all-star billing falls short as the album potters through some pretty regulation modern death metal, giving precious little indications as to the talent lying behind the dross. Heavily imbued with their love of the early Florida scene, this barely drags itself above the hordes of imitators that continue to worship those idols more than two decades later.

The résumé of previous bands certainly piqued my curiosity in new entity Onera, and their first offering Olde [7] is a rewarding visit for those who like their doom dabbling with prog. Although still rough around the edges, the three tracks on offer slide from intense funereal riffing to sparse, darkly beautiful interludes with an elegant grace. Full of sorrow and longing, the EP is also more than heavy enough to please the headbangers. Paradise Gallows [5], the latest from fellow Americans Inter Arma, is a frustratingly uneven effort for a band that can produce some fantastic music. Tracks like 'The Summer Drones' and 'Potomac' sink their claws in with ease as they go beyond merely destructive drone; others such as 'Transfiguration' have killer hooks that are as captivating as they are brutal. However, too much of the surrounding pieces fall into this messy, uniform slab of decidedly average, drawn-out deathly doom.

There is no doubting the sickening levels of talent within Periphery, but as we delve deeper into their career, the phrase "one-trick pony" becomes ever more prominent. It is not as if Periphery III: Select Difficulty [4] is a carbon copy of what has gone before, but the whole point seems to remain showing off those guitar skills with this choppy, headspinningly complex tech-metal sound. Indeed, this time around there appears to be a darker, more serious tone as they dispense with the almost childish playfulness of the debut; the consequence however is ever greater homogony across the album as nothing stands out from the blizzard of licks and runs. Ambitious French outfit Monolithe continue their shift away from drone into more traditional proggy/metallic territory with Zeta Reticuli [5]. Like last year's rebirth, the three tracks are based around crunching doom-laden riffs and sweeping lead lines. The problem remains the obvious efforts to pull them all out to exactly fifteen minutes come-what-may, leading to good passages becoming strained and overly, unnaturally long.

Whilst hardly "the sound of summer", this month's dark star is undoubtedly III: Trauma [8] courtesy of Harakiri For The Sky. Their sophomore record was a harsh yet gorgeous piece of expansive black metal, and the leaps forward the duo demonstrates this time around are as pleasing as they are bleak. Even though every track is in excess of eight minutes (ensuing a total running time of seventy five minutes), none feel weighed down by the added emphasis on lush, grandiose atmospherics, instead using the additional room to unfurl vast yet suffocating wings that feel all the more oppressive for the broad scope afforded them. Harakiri For The Sky do an amazing job of capturing the freezing, primal fear of the genre without falling into many of its pitfalls; add into the mix a greater maturity in the songwriting, a confidence to expand and explore beyond the basic "kvlt" confines, and III: Trauma becomes a rather frightening and disturbing listen.

Sinsaenum – Echoes Of The Tortured (29th, Peccatum Records)
Onera – Olde (1st, Independent)
Inter Arma – Paradise Gallows (8th, Relapse Records)
Periphery – Periphery III: Select Difficulty (22nd, Century Media Records)
Monolithe – Zeta Reticuli (8th, Debemur Morti Productions)
Harakiri For The Sky – III: Trauma (22nd, Art Of Propaganda)

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